Monday, May 9, 2016

Kwik Sew 3873 and Cashmerette Concord Mash-Up: Reveal

I took this past Thursday and Friday off with big plans to sew for 4 days. Well, all I managed to finish was my mash-up of Kwik Sew 3873 with a Cashmerette Concord Tee bodice, but I'm happy with my new dress so it's a win. The weather was just too nice on Saturday to stay inside all day but the biggest speed bump was my second thoughts about all these prints together, resulting in a bad case of analysis paralysis.

Cutting went very quickly, especially considering how many pieces there are. Since I was using 3 different fabrics and most pattern pieces were able to be "nested," I still have plenty left of each print for future projects.

I had the print mix in my mind before I started, but once I had everything cut out, I started second-guessing myself and visualizing Mrs. Frizzle. I ended up staring at it all on my cutting table for about a day before I finally decided to just do it. Once I actually started, the sewing went fast. The Kwik Sew pieces for the skirt curvy sections have notches that line up perfectly, making alignment and construction very straightforward. And since I morphed the already-tested Cashmerette Concord Tee for the bodice section, fitting alterations were eliminated.

With the bodice and skirt sections stitched, it was time for some more navel gazing. I had initially cut out sleeves from the same print as the bodice but then thought maybe I wanted contrasting sleeves. I put out a call for an informal poll on Instagram and the opinions were about equal for both options.

I decided the matching sleeves were a little less Crazytown and since I already had them cut out, they won. I'm happy with that decision. A contrast neckband finished up the print mixing.

I shortened the sleeves about 2-1/2 inches compared to the KS pattern (not the Concord sleeve) because while I wanted to try the longer short sleeve length, I decided it was too frumpy on me. After the first full try-on, I also shortened the back bodice 1 inch at the center graduating to 0 at the side seams. This was more to fine-tune the morph of the Concord in lieu of a real muslin. It also meant frog-stitching the back waist seam, but since I hadn't serged that seam, it was fairly painless.

Finally, since I have to carry a key card at work and without pockets I have nowhere to hang it, I added a loop at the front right waist seam for clipping the card onto it. I have to say that I LOVE this feature. Dorky, but so useful!

All of the mirror pics show how I wore this dress to work today, including my key card. It's the end of the day so I'm a little wilted but life is life. I'm never going to win for most beautiful blog pics. Hah.

And one more just because. The bottom "hem" isn't really. I just left the cut edge raw. After wearing all day, I think it probably grew a little too long and I may go ahead and hem it at some point when I want to veg with Netflix and pin a million pins on a very wide skirt hem. In other words, don't anyone hold their breath on that one. :-)

Final verdict: I love the dress! It fits nicely, thanks to the Concord bodice (by the way, if you're busty/curvy, go get this tee now! I am not affiliated, yada yada ... just really happy with the pattern). The dress skims lumps and bumps,and the twirl/swish factor is awesome. I even like the print mix again. It feels summery and fun. I'll definitely be visiting this pattern morph again, just in a more subdued way. I think I'd like it as a skirt too.

Parting shot: My Mother's Day gift from Alex ... New ceramic pots and colorful crotons to put in them. I love them!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cashmerette Concord Tee - The Reveal and Review

I'm done. Tee shirts used to take me a 2-3 hours. Now, it seems, they take weeks. Hmmm. :-)

It's not the pattern that's the problem here. The Cashmerette Concord pattern is really great. I just started to dislike the fabric and had to force myself to keep at it. Now that it's done, I like it again. I just hated sewing with it. It's a thin rayon/lycra knit and it wanted to wiggle all over the place. At some point early on, once I declared this a "wearable muslin," I pretty much just gave up on stripe matching. If it happened, yay. If not, I wasn't going to care. I see a few spots in the pics that could be better but I still just don't care. This is a casual tee. No one in real life will even notice. It's fine. I just point out these things for other sewists, to keep it real. In actual life, nope.

So, as you can see, I used 3 different fabrics for the tee. Had I known how much I hated sewing with this fabric, it would be a b/w-only striped tee. :-) But I soldiered on, and here's a crappy cellphone-pointed-at-the-mirror pic.

And another cell pic from during the process when I was gauging the neckline width. (Did you notice the cool-geeky dinosaur necklace?) If you remember, I had some concerns last post about the open-ness of the neckline since I'm a bit narrow-shouldered. To compensate, I cut a 14 for the neck/shoulders. This is 2 sizes smaller than my size per the instructions (using my full bust measurement). It worked well. In the photo below, the neckband isn't attached and my bra straps are only just visible. Meaning, with the neckband, I'd have full coverage. Jenny (from Cashmerette) confirmed the neckline is "pretty open." My conclusion, it's a nice width but definitely go narrower if you have narrow shoulders. Or, cut a wider neckband. :-)

Close-up of neckband, sewn on with the sewing machine, and then coverstitched. I used the pattern piece for the neckband and I was a little concerned that it was going to take a ton of stretching to get it to fit the neck opening. It did but it also worked absolutely fine for this fabric. Still, I think I'm going to add a wee bit of length for poly knits such as ITYs. I have a really good feel for neckbands at this point in my sewing so it's one of those "I'll know it when I see feel it" kind of things. :-)

I also added the contrast band to the sleeve hems. (I like things in odd numbers, especially threes.) Although I cut the shortest sleeves in the pattern with a hem allowance (I didn't know I was going to use bands), I trimmed it off before attaching the bands. I like the finished length of the sleeves. The width is also good for me. I don't have skinny biceps but they aren't particularly meaty in proportion to the rest of me.

I color blocked the back as well as the front. I whacked at the pattern visually (meaning without measurements) so the back yoke length has no relation to the front. I was more interested in pleasing proportions viewing head on vs. how the two met around my armpit. The back yoke joining seam is one of those places where things could be more even. But it's my back. I just don't care.

I started with the shortest length and then proceeded to add 2 inches to it. And, yes, you guessed it …it's about 2 inches too long. I know it technically looks OK but 2 inches up is better on me. Since this is rayon, I'm going to see if a trip or two through the laundry takes care of things. This thin rayon does tend to like to keep shrinking a bit.

So, what I haven't specifically mentioned yet but I think is obvious from the photos is how well this tee fits me and the girls. The pattern is divided into C/D, E/F, and G/H cup sizes. I used the E/F as instructed because it was closer to my waist measurement. Yes, I said waist. It's an hourglass v. apple kind of thing, I'm guessing. I think the neckline options are nice. My only criticism on the necklines is the finish for the vee. It's more of a "scrubs" neckband, which I think is eh. I'm sure it's aimed at beginners, but I don't necessarily agree with "dumbing down" a tee pattern. But if I had been an actual tester as I initially agreed, maybe I could've changed some minds. We'll never know. :-) As for differing sleeve and hem lengths, these aren't really aimed at me since I can easily make those adjustments. For those who like to have it all in the package, it's good to have so no complaint there.

You may be thinking it's difficult to get excited about a tee pattern which costs $14/$18, but if you're a curvy lady who hasn't found tee nirvana in any other pattern, I say go for it. It will pay off in the long run. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I love my Ottobre TNT. Well, that Ottobre magazine was probably in the $12-$15 range and I've made SO MANY variations on that tee that the cost of the magazine isn't even a factor anymore. (Yes, I know there are multiple patterns in the magazine but I didn't sew them.)

Don't tell my Ottobre bestie, but I think this Concord even fits me a little better. I like it enough that I'm subbing it into the bodice for the Kwik Sew dress pattern I showed last post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In the works and on deck

(Can you believe it? TWO posts from me in the same week!)

So it's Spring here in Tampa. For about another minute until it's All Summer-All Humid-All The Time … for months. And I'm ready for some new clothes.

First up, is the new Cashmerette Concord tee. This should have been a very quick sew over this past weekend. To be fair, it IS a quick sew. It just wasn't a quick decision on sizing so actually starting took some time. And let's not mention Netflix sucking me in.

In-Progress Concord

I was originally to be a tester but my sewing is so scarce and scattered these days that I pretty much just wussed out. Jenny very kindly sent me a paper pattern anyway. I'm a bad tester. But I am an honest reviewer, so maybe it will all work out?

Concord back pattern with curves!

With the paper pattern in hand, it meant I had to trace. It also meant I had to "sacrifice" some old never-used costume pattern so I had tracing paper to use, or something resembling it. (I know I have actual pattern tracing paper but I have no idea where it ended up after the move last July.) Tracing isn't a big deal. I have to be honest, though, and say I actually prefer PDFs just because I don't have to trace and I can just print another if I mess up.

So back to the sizing conundrum. I tend to run a little bit narrow in the shoulders and from the Concords I'd been seeing on blogs and Instagram, it looked to me like the neckline runs wide. After cutting and partially sewing, I agree with myself that it does have a wide-set neck opening. In the pic above, the neckband isn't yet sewn on (and in real life it's not even cut out), so the neck opening looks even wider than it will when finished.

Although my B-W-H measurements would put me in the 18-20 range, I started with the E/F cup and traced at 14 for the neckline and shoulders, gradually increasing to 16 at underarm/bust level, and then out to 20+ for hips/bum.

So far, everything is going great. Except my fiddly fabric. I thought I would do some colorblocking, and as you can see, I did. But I'm probably going to be sorry. This rayon knit is very flimsy and there is definite rippling where the two colors come together. I'm pretty sure that the neckband stitching will be meh too. So, I'm dubbing this a wearable muslin and we'll see how it goes.

The pattern itself is very nice. It's nothing earth-shattering for me because I now have years of fitting/altering experience (and a few TNT tees), but I can see that it's going to be a good fit (pun intended) for busty/curvy ladies who don't want to roll their own (paying homage to 4/20 today hahaha!). It should be very easy to get a great tee with a more modern fit than most other commercial tee patterns right out of the envelope. Just heed the possibility of a wide neckline. Oh, and maybe slim sleeves. They looked on the smaller side to me as I was tracing/cutting but I'm withholding final judgment since I haven't actually sewed up the sideseams/sleeves and tried it on yet.

The instructions look comprehensive and I love the 3/8" seam allowances. At the larger end of the plus pattern spectrum, that 3/8" seam allowance can make a real difference in pattern layout on fabric. Plus, it's just so much easier to sew and serge with a 3/8" SA. Jenny also says that there's a slight forward shoulder adjustment built-in. (This doesn't help me, of the erect posture brigade, but it might be of interest to you?)

I'm hoping to finish this up tonight and tomorrow night after work so I can then start on …

… Kwik Sew 3873. And yes, they still don't have the best illustrations/photos. But at least you can see the seamlines and I think it's going to be a fun summer dress with mix/match prints.The sleeves definitely need some de-frumping and KS has always run big in the armhole for me. If the Concord trial above is a win, I may just morph the two together (or if not, use my TNT).

Stay tuned. I promise I'll be back soon with an update on both.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tee

A couple of weeks ago, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow went on a tee bender, cutting and sewing four (4!!!) tees in less than a weekend. Me, I can barely sew four seams in a row lately. Anyway, Gillian's post inspired me to download and try the free Kirsten Kimono tee from Maria Denmark. It's only two pattern pieces (plus a neckband) and I would've had it finished last weekend had I not made a really boneheaded mistake at the finish line. More on that later. Anyway, here's the finished tee. I added an interfaced self-fabric sash to add some waist definition (and give me a place to hang my pass card at work).

I don't remember the exact sheet count for the PDF and the file isn't on this computer for me to check but it wasn't too many, and it went together quickly and with no alignment issues. (Edited to add: I've checked the pattern and it's 20 pages, 8 of which are instructions. So, only 12 pages to put together.) Seam allowances are not included but it was easy enough to add them with my rotary blade attachment as I cut out the pattern.

I went back and forth over sizing and in the end picked too big for the neck/shoulders. I ended up adding two pleats to the center front to take up the excess. No big deal on the finished top, as they look intentional. However, the pic below is NOT the finished top. I thought it was nearly done last weekend, until I realized that I had mixed up the back and front and those pleats below are really the back. (See the shoulder seams riding "forward"?) Of course, I didn't realize my mistake until after I had attached and coverstitched the neckband. I ripped it all out and was able to finally finish it this past weekend. It wasn't too traumatic, just frustrating to have to put off finishing for another week.

As I mentioned, the tee is only two pieces - a front and a back so not too complicated. But one part that was a nice surprise was how well the underarm hem turned under. Often on dolman/kimono sleeves, the underarm hem has to be fudged when it doesn't turn under evenly. Not so here. (The coverstitching looks a little messy because you're seeing my ending threads run under the loops.)

The finished tee, this time with the pleats in front. The next time I make this, I'll narrow the upper width so I can eliminate the pleats, although I do like them on this top for little interest. All in all, a great fast project and pattern, or it would've been if I didn't mix up front and back the first go-round. And, hey, FREE!

And for a parting shot, if you follow me on Instagram (link upper left), you'll have already seen this photo of the grasshoppers that have invaded my neighbor's yard. They're cool and ewww at the same time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

This and That

Yeah, it's been a minute since my last post. Er, no excuse. Just no blogging mojo. Right up there with the mostly missing sewjo. But there has a been a little teeny tiny bit of sewing so I'll document it for posterity. Nothing exciting, but at least I've finished some things. Which lately is a major accomplishment. :-)

First up, but the last things made, are a Hot Patterns Sunshine Top (the original) and a circle-ish Simplicity skirt. I haven't worn the two together yet, but I have worn the top. It's so nice to have a new Sunshine in my wardrobe. For this one, I went down to the size 14 for the neckband and shoulders, which is perfect. I had sewn it before with a 16 neck/shoulders and it fit, but flashing a bra strap was likely without deploying some strategically placed Hollywood tape. Now, no more worries for that. I think this top took me 5 weeks to sew. Not literally all sewing time, but for some reason I just couldn't force myself to sew even though I knew I wanted this top DONE and it took about that long in 10-minute spurts. Ahhh. That sewjo is a mysterious beast, no? I'm hoping it returns with a vengeance soon because there are things I want NEED in my wardrobe.

Stripe matching like a boss at the sideseams. Just don't look at my completely mismatched sleeves. I totally spaced on those and then was too lazy to fix it. It's really not a problem, so while I'm pointing it out here, I've already forgotten about it in real life.

Here's the famous and flattering neckline. And finally a clear photo. I have no idea why my camera didn't like the full-length shots but if I had to re-do them again, this blog post was never going to happen.

Here's a crappy (sense a theme?) mirror shot of the finished SBCC Mimosa top, which is what I was sewing last time I blogged. I did actually finish it fairly soon after and I've worn it a TON. I really, really needed a white blouse for work. It's a great layering piece and the front tie makes it a little less boring white shell and more pretty white blouse.

Less blown-out photo, easier to see details. One of these days I'm going to remember to cut the ties different lengths so they finish at the same length when tied.

I also got a wild hair and sewed two doggie hoodies. It's a Kwik Sew something ... too lazy to go look.

Now Alex and Charlie semi-match. Actually, the wild hair was Alex egging me on to do it.

Dani didn't get one. She doesn't get cold easily and would probably freak out if we tried to put her legs through the sleeves. She's got quirks.

Alex putting the final touches on his investment house. It rented in a week and the tenants have been in it for almost a month now. Go Alex!

And lastly, for no good reason, here's a pic of one of the two new palm trees in my yard. Summer is coming.

Hopefully, I'll be back here soon. I've got a new project on the cutting table.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Did I Say Simple Plans? Hah

So those simple plans I mentioned last post? Yeah. Well. I sewed about 2 seams.

Life happened. Namely, the time I volunteered to help Alex work on his investment house this past weekend multiplied and wore me out.

Alex was out of town this past weekend visiting his brother and nephew and I was to supervise the installation of new carpet on Saturday morning while also installing tile around the new bathroom vanity. One thing led to another ... namely, the carpet installation was pushed back a few hours, the tile saw I needed to rent from Home Depot hadn't been returned by the previous renters, etc., etc. So, I ended up just standing around the house a lot either waiting for or watching/talking with the carpet installer. Time not exactly wasted but not very productive either. And standing around on tile floors all day is tiring even if you do nothing.

Sunday was supposed to be miserable weather-wise (turned out the storm blew past quickly) so I planned to "take off" from Alex's house and hunker down in mine to work on the blouse. Before the weekend started I had really planned to spend both Sunday and Monday as sewing days but since Saturday was a bust, I had to regroup. I did get the Mimosa top cut out and interfaced but not much further. The ties are sewn (but not turned and/or pressed) if that counts. Baby steps. And it's also football playoffs time and some really good games further distracted me. Ah well.

So, while I have no sewing photos to share, I do have some from Alex's house.

First, the new carpet. Only the two bedrooms have carpeting and they are small, but it still took 3+ hours for installation.

The bathroom, after we tore out the yucky old vanity (a few weeks ago).

Alex working on the new vanity, cutting holes in the back to fit around the existing plumbing. This is in the living room — isn't that a cute little built-in in the wall? The house was built in 1952.

Finally, what I did Monday. I still need to go back and grout. The optical illusions from the missing grout make things looks a little crooked and unfinished — but it's all pretty straight IRL. The tiles go around the whole sink area and onto the little side wall to the left of the sink. The big splooosh above the tile will be covered when we do the final paint. There was a very ugly and very 1980s oak towel ring there previously.

I plan to grout the tile Friday after work so I can get back to sewing the rest of the weekend. But we've seen how my plans have been going so I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Simple Plans

I need a plain white blouse. It's something I often wish was in my closet when getting dressed for work, but finding fabric was more difficult than I imagined, mostly because what's available online seems to be too sheer or too fancy and what's available locally ... er ... isn't available. At least until a couple of weeks ago when I was in Hancock Fabrics to stock up on some thread. And, um, yeah, I also bought a couple more fabrics.

I didn't want high-end fabric because I want the blouse/top to be a workhorse, which means the ability to throw it in the laundry every week and to take it from the dryer back to the closet without a stop at the ironing board. In other words, polyester. But nothing that felt too icky.

I think I found a winner in this textured white woven poly. The photo below shows the texture (crinkling) a little closer up. (I may have also bought the same fabric in black. And 1 yard of the stretch woven destined to become a Magic Pencil may have flown into my shopping cart too.)

So I think the white fabric will become a SBCC Mimosa top (above) this weekend. I've already promised Saturday to Alex for tiling in his investment house, but that still leaves me Sunday and  Monday, since Monday is a holiday. Yay long weekends!

In the meantime, here are some gratuitous family pics ... my (step)grandson turns 1 today. He's the most chill baby/lil' dude I've ever met.

Happy Birthday Dean!

And my other "babies" on duty. Not a pedestrian or mailman goes by without their permission. Or so they think.

P.S. Thank you for all the super nice comments about my dotty Appleton dress. I still haven't fixed the tie ride-up issue so it's still just decorating Zillie and it's been rather cold here (for here) anyway so I haven't been extra motivated, but I'm hoping to fix it this weekend too.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Cashmerette Appleton Dress in Review

Although technically I started this dress in December, I'm calling this my first make of 2016 since I finished, photographed, and blogged it today.

Overall, I like my finished dress and it's a great pattern. But ... there are a couple of things I changed during construction and a couple more I hope to change for a next version. The main thing is I'm not sure how I feel about the boobaliciousness on display with the ties riding up right under my bra. The ties are just sitting too high for my preference. I'm pointing the finger at me on this one, though. Meaning, it's due to my belly growing over the last couple of years from indulging in too many goodies and not enough sit-ups coupled with the body changes that creep up with age and so the ties just ride up even though they actually start in the right place to hit my true waist. I'm thinking maybe I'll add some belt holders but until then, I will likely wear this dress with a light gray cardi to camouflage the belly in profile view, at least until I get on with those sit-ups (don't hold your breath on that one). From the front, which is how you're seeing me in these pics, it looks fine. Great, even. :-) As a comparison to the Muse Gillian wrap dress, I prefer the Gillian's sewn in waistband for keeping both the ties and my waist in check.

I do L.O.V.E. the color and the dots, and the fabric is a nice ITY that drapes and swishes just right. I can't remember if it came from or Fabricmart but it was last year (I mean more than just yesterday), so I'm sure it's gone from wherever. It was a good match for this pattern.

So, onto the changes I made and what I'll do next time ...

First, simple, but I fused the opening ... er ... open with Steam-a-Seam. The fabric is slippery and I knew the "flaps" would probably work their way through the hole and look weird.

Next, I interfaced the ties. Not any of the neckline pieces, just the ties. You can see how they are attached separately onto the neckline pieces below. I prefer my waist ties to have some body so they don't collapse into themselves and get lost in the fluff that is my waist. If I had actually tested this pattern, I would've suggested adding the interfacing at least as an option.

Something I will change for next time is to move the shoulder seam backward. I do not have forward shoulders at all, just the opposite in fact, so the shoulder seams are riding a bit forward on me. (I don't know if this pattern is drafted for a more forward shoulder. Jenny?) This will be a fiddly pattern alteration, though, because there are a lot of pieces coming together here and the nice no-gape neckline is achieved by having these pieces fit together in a certain way. Alternatively, I may just make an erect back alteration to the back piece, which would be easier. I'm still evaluating the finished dress in my mirror.

The other thing I'll change for next time is to lengthen the ties about 12 inches. I want to be able to tie a bow and have the tie ends hang lower than they do at this length. Plus, I would make them different lengths so they are the same finished length when tied. Below, I've made a loop with just the longer side. There's not enough tie to make an adult bow vs. a little girl bow on the hip. This is an easy enough change once I do the math to figure out which tie needs to be longer than the other.

Here you can see the "structure" adding the interfacing gives the ties when going around the back. And you can see the deep hem. I thought the pattern wasn't going to be long enough and added a total of about 4 inches by spreading 1 inch in the middle and adding the rest at the hem edge. Yeah, that was overkill. I ended up making a 1.5 inch double-fold hem. But I do like the added weight of this hem so I'd probably do it again.

As for the pattern itself, I was using the paper version provided to me for free by Jenny (with no strings attached and if you know my blog, you know I tell it like it is). It's nicely drafted and comes with a lovely and comprehensive instruction book. From the instructions, I found it to be very straightforward figuring out what size vs. bust cup to choose. For the record, I used the E/F cup piece and cut a 20 at neckline/shoulders/waist and then morphed out to 24 for the hips (tummy in my case) on the front piece only. The fit is good through the shoulders, but I think the 18 up top might be even better. I went big due to the abundant negative ease in the bust as a "just in case." But in any case, no linebacker shoulders drafted here.

It's more than roomy enough around the hips/butt/belly and since the fronts wrap almost to the sideseam at each side, I don't have any fear of the wrap flying open and exposing anything better left covered. Beginners may find assembling the neckline pieces a bit tricky, but soldier on ... it works.

I can see why this pattern has been popular from its release. It's a pretty dress, flattering to and designed for curves. So nice to pretty much just cut, sew, wear.

A couple more gratuitous shots ...